About Sherry Sommer

I grew up in southeast Denver and have lived in Boulder County (first Boulder and now Louisville) for 33 years. Colorado has changed a lot in the past 60 years, (surprise!) but many constants make this place home: Gorgeous and ever changing clouds, bright blue and wide open skies, trees and gardens flourishing in a dry climate, family roots, South Church... I've certainly changed over the years, and am thankful beyond words for the the ever present and faithful love of God, no matter what the circumstances. The months beginning in January, 2022, were quite a challenge: Caring for my father, Sam Masoudi, dealing with the aftermath of the Marshall Fire, and community engagement kept me fully alert and working! Now, with the passing of my father and an empty nest, I'm in a new phase of life. I'm eagerly anticipating the challenges and surprises I know will be in store! Being on the devotional team has added so my to my life and I look forward to writing and learning more and more.

Where Do We Put Our Faith?

Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. John 14:10-14

What does a Spirit filled life look like? What is it to experience that kind of life? I don’t know about you, but I’ve focused too much on verses 12 and 13 in the past: Jesus’ disciples “will do even greater works than [he has been doing]” and Jesus “will do whatever [we] ask in [his] name”. I’ve focused too much on my own ability to assess the quality of “greater works” anticipated by God, or those that quantify as “great” -– while I rely on my own success in asking or pressuring God into answering these prayers in the way that seems best to me.

Upon closer reading (and after a lot of extra effort), I’ve realized Jesus isn’t asking us to focus so much of ourselves to try to quantify the greatness of good works -– our own or anyone else’s. So what is he saying?

10 “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11a Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me.”

    • We need to understand that the Trinity — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — is relational in itself. “Relational” is an often used word in Christianity: I understand what this means by contrasting it to ”transactional”, where everything is done to obtain something – where “relationship” is a means to an alliance in companionship.
    • Just as Jesus relates to his Father, we need to be in relationship with the Holy Spirit, learning, growing, obeying — not using God as a means to attainment — even while we’re doing good.

11 “Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.”

If it’s too difficult to understand the nature of the Trinity, Jesus gives us option B, which is to believe the evidence of the works he has done.

Sometimes I’ve looked at works of people (who have claimed to be “filled with the Spirit”), more than at Jesus. The first time I remember this happening was when my Dad would watch Catherine Kuhlman on TV. She’d say, “I bee-LEEVE in miracles!”, and I’d think, “that seems a little strange!” Living the life of a TV faith healer did not appeal to me at all. Jesus is asking us to focus on Him, His works and how He interacted with people.

12b “they will do even greater things than these”

    • People by nature like to gauge success, control results, and conform to techniques and formulas. I believe Jesus is asking us to accept this statement by faith – not to analyze what it means in practice. Personally I find faith really exciting because it’s saying we can anticipate seeing the greatest surprises in our own lives and in the lives of other believers.

14 “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”

    • Finally, Jesus tells us that prayer is the way to a life filled with the Holy Spirit’s help and guidance. We don’t need to do good works in playing a mysterious cat and mouse game with God; we really need to pray.

Application: Are there areas in your life that you’re trying to manage on your own? I know I have them! Instead try praying that the Holy Spirit will guide and help you in these areas.

Lately my interpretation of praying in faith is to pray about a situation and then just leave it to God. I don’t keep revisiting the topic as if my extra effort and words would sway God. Instead I ask ‘agog’ that He would help me believe He will answer the prayer I would pray if I knew all that He does.

Would that be something that you might want to try as well?

Where Do We Put Our Faith?2023-05-31T13:34:04-06:00

Impossible Promise

A few years ago, I was in Paris enjoying one of my favorite activities, window shopping. Strolling in a neighborhood with many small and interesting stores, one display caught my eye. In this window was a beautiful nesting doll, a symbol of fertility in Russia. Normally, I’m used to seeing these dolls with just a few pieces nesting inside –- perhaps 5 to 8. The doll in this window must have had well over 60 pieces, which is many more than I could have imagined possible.
This elaborate and intricate work of art seems to be a fitting metaphor for the promise God gave Abraham and Sarah, a promise they didn’t have the power to imagine. It’s also a way to expand our understanding of the promises God gives to us.

God had promised Abraham and Sarai not only a son, but a much bigger family. That family would be more numerous than the stars in the sky, blessed by a covenant that would cover descendants generation after generation:

God took him outside and said, “Look at the sky. Count the stars. Can you do it? Count your descendants! You’re going to have a big family, Abram!” Genesis 15:5 MSG

How many of us can relate to the amazement and hope Abraham must have felt when God gave him the promise of a child? There is something so powerful and compelling about having children. In Abraham and Sarah’s time, children were tied closely to social status and security — to be childless was to be vulnerable. While the social norms are different for us, the hope and longing is familiar. Having children guarantees sleepless nights and up close and personal encounters with challenges that range from messy to heartbreaking, yet that’s not enough to dissuade generation after generation to take the plunge.

The promise of a son for Abraham and Sarah was so riveting, in fact, that they were tempted to make having children an end in itself. In their case, their longing for a child year after year turned into taking matters into their own hands. Sarah, impatient with waiting to become pregnant, had Abraham sleep with her maidservant Hagar. While we may not immediately be able to relate to that twist in the story of Abraham and Sarah, it’s not hard, for me at least, to understand their actions. I often made my children into the be all and end all. My children and their well being have, at times, become the most important thing I was living for. Perhaps others can relate to this as well. It’s common for people to feel adrift and empty at the end of child raising, as if God’s purpose for their usefulness has ended with that phase of life. It’s as if we received and opened a beautiful nesting doll from God and then closed a chapter of our story. Whatever our story, we too may be able to relate to fiercely wanting a gift from God, and then getting so wrapped up, getting exactly what we want, that we lose perspective.

Back to the 60 plus layer nesting doll I saw in that Paris shop. Imagine receiving that doll as a gift and beginning to unpack the layers — one after another after another. That’s what God’s promise of descendants to Abraham and to us, through faith, is like. Just like Abraham and Sarah, we want to focus on what’s easy to understand and expect — at least one or two, maybe three or four children. God has so much more for us. If you have never had children, if you are hoping for children who have not yet come, or have raised them and now contemplate a new season in life, God’s promise to us is so much bigger than we can grasp or imagine. He promises to bless many through our faith, and there is no limit in time or circumstance when He can work through us.


Imagine receiving a beautiful nesting doll from God and beginning to unpack the layers inside. How has God worked through you to bring a blessing to “descendants” — literal or figurative? What season are you in at the moment? Is it full of promise for children or are those days for you reaching an end? Did you hope for a season of children that has not come yet or that you were not at all able to experience? Pray for wisdom and faith to see how God can expand your vision of His promises and work through you whatever your circumstances or life stage.

Impossible Promise2023-05-20T09:49:15-06:00

Marriage and Parenting – Who’s on first?

Navigating family life with grace and consistency was a never-ending challenge for me. I was a stay-at-home mom, and setting a family vision and its implementation fell on me. There were so many moving pieces — including, but not limited to: Metaphorical baggage, literal baggage, personalities, quirks, finances, extended family, pets, chores, learning styles, love languages, friends (or lack thereof), vacations, technology, and school. The one constant were the questions — “Will we or won’t we survive this endless summer and/or school year?” And “Did I feel totally rested two or three decades ago?”

It’s not that I wasn’t trying to learn how to do better as a parent and wife. Given the “Rube Goldberg machine under construction” nature of parenting in our home, advice I heard in church didn’t help. Put God first, your spouse next, then church!” Put on your oxygen mask!” “Plan regular date nights!” What I heard was “Do more!” What I needed was a total overhaul, not bumper sticker “worthy advice”.

Now that it’s established that I have lots of experience and no helpful advice, let’s consider some passages from Scripture. I do think I would have done a better job and been less stressed if I had understood and been able to implement spiritual direction.

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:26 The Message

  • Parents are not supposed to devote all of their energy and attention toward family members, either their spouse or children. Only Jesus deserves being the number one priority; our love for family members cannot usurp that place. I think that’s an amazingly liberating idea.

Jesus said, “The first [commandment] in importance is, ‘Listen, Israel: The Lord your God is one; so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.’ And here is the second: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ There is no other commandment that ranks with these.” Mark 12:30-31 The Message

  • This passage reiterates what was said in Luke, and adds a twist — “Love others as well as you love yourself.” I suppose each one of us may find half of that command difficult. I fall on the side of loving others more than myself, a great recipe for depletion. It’s not only pragmatic and smart to love oneself, it’s also commanded. Whether we find it easier to love others or to love ourselves, we need to be reminded by this passage that healthy life, marriage, and parenting require that the loop gets closed.

Children, do what your parents tell you. This is only right. “Honor your father and mother” is the first commandment that has a promise attached to it, namely, “so you will live well and have a long life.” Ephesians 6:1-3 The Message

  • Loving our children well requires that we remember what our relationship with them is supposed to look like. The relationship between parents and between parents and their children is very different from what we normally see. The parent child role is supposed to be one of teaching and honor. Compare this to the relation between parents, which is defined according to mutual submission, love and respect. I see this as parents setting the tone and example in the family, together, for their children.


As you read these passages, which stand out to you? Rather than comparing how badly or well your family relations compare to these verses, just take time to ask God for wisdom and direction as you participate in family life. Ask the Holy Spirit for strength and understanding as you relate to your spouse and teach your children.

Marriage and Parenting – Who’s on first?2023-05-13T09:56:33-06:00

Christian Marriage: A Revolutionary Design

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing[b] her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[c] This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
Ephesians 5:21-33

This passage has often been used as a blueprint for gender roles in Christian marriage. It has also been used to reinforce preexisting cultural norms, rather than subjecting those norms to biblical scrutiny. In my opinion, these approaches do not capture just how revolutionary this passage is meant to be for Christian marriage. If we can get some distance from how this passage applies to us and just take the time to think about what Paul is saying, we may be more receptive to its message. I believe one way we can get a fresh start is to think about how different Paul’s view of marriage was for an audience in the Ancient World.

In both Ancient Roman and Jewish marriages, husbands ruled over their homes. In Roman marriage, men controlled the property. Men had absolute control over children and, to a lesser extent, their wives. Households were “under” the husband’s “hand. In Jewish marriages men controlled the family and were “lord” and “master” of the house. The wife was expected to “help” him by providing children. The will of the husband was binding on the whole family.

Marriage based on Mutual Submission: Marriage in the Ancient world was based on fixed gender roles that wives and husbands played, Paul begins this passage on a very different note — a call to mutual submission. Submission is an attitude rather than a formula or set of rules to follow. Submission is such a loaded word — to me, anyway, it connotes: setting aside one’s free will and good judgment. I wonder if this passage would make more sense if “submit to one another” was replaced with “serve one another”.

Marriage based on love:  Paul then goes on to zoom in on what “submission” means for a husband, and that is to love his wife. I wonder if this is Paul’s instruction for men in the Ancient world as a correction for the cultural view that a man was to “rule” his household. Rather than being something like the CEO of his home, a Christian husband was being told to act with love:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. I Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV

Marriage based on respect:  I once attended a seminar called “Love and Respect”. The premise was that Paul commanded men to love their wives because love is what wives need. Similarly, he commanded that wives respect their husbands. That didn’t make sense to me because men and women both need love and respect. I have an alternative idea. What if Paul commands wives to respect their husbands because that was not a trait that Ancient marriage cultivated? If men had the absolute right to rule their homes, I can imagine that wives had very little incentive to be respectful — except as they were forced to be.

Marriage that’s “All In”:  Ancient Roman and Jewish marriages involved conforming to traditional norms. Christian marriage involved a spiritual dimension that required action based on thought and inward reflection. Paul is not creating a checklist of duties for marriage partners; this passage requires much more.

Application: Compare your view of marriage to the Roman, Jewish, and Christian standards. What can you learn about yourself?

Christian Marriage: A Revolutionary Design2023-05-07T16:52:38-06:00

Covenantal Marriage: What It Means to be All In

Do we not all have one Father? Did not one God create us? Why do we profane the covenant of our ancestors by being unfaithful to one another?

Judah has been unfaithful. A detestable thing has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem: Judah has desecrated the sanctuary the Lord loves by marrying women who worship a foreign god. As for the man who does this, whoever he may be, may the Lord remove him from the tents of Jacob—even though he brings an offering to the Lord Almighty.

Another thing you do: You flood the Lord’s altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer looks with favor on your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. You ask, “Why?” It is because the Lord is the witness between you and the wife of your youth. You have been unfaithful to her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant. Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring.[d] So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth. “The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect,” says the Lord Almighty. Malachi 2:10-16 NIV

Throughout the Bible we see God working toward an extremely high standard for our broken world and fragile relationships: shalom (peace) – His kingdom coming to earth – He does so through covenantal relationships between Himself and people and between people. While God is absolutely Holy, the people He works through are fragile and flawed. Covenants are relationships that embrace God’s holy standards and our weaknesses.

I won’t pretend to be an expert on the differences between a contract and a covenant. However, I believe the gist is this:

A contract is a legal agreement that is broken when the rules are broken by parties to it.
A covenant is a pledge meant to be maintained even if the parties to it violate their commitments.

Like the relationship between God and his people, marriage is a covenant designed to endure for the long haul and to withstand stress, and even become stronger with testing.

What does this mean for us as we work toward God’s holy standards through the messiness of our marriages? There are no easy answers or neat lists of techniques for understanding how we are to live within the covenant of marriage. One thing is certain, that understanding requires a level of wisdom that can’t be found by reading books or successfully having navigated other types of relationships. Fools rush in where angels fear to tread – I’m going to propose some explanations but am not posing as an expert!

Covenants keep the long term in mind: While contracts are fairly black and white, covenants are designed for long term relationships and are able to tolerate more ambiguity. Every misstep is not grounds for termination/divorce.

Covenants mean our actions matter: While covenants are better able to handle missteps and mistakes, the parties’ actions still matter. It is clear from the passage in Malachi that God detests unfaithfulness to covenants. A covenantal relationship like marriage is not something one party can take for granted, leaving all the burden of maintaining the commitment on the other — both parties need to be committed.

Covenants — Are they perpetually valid? This is a subject that is way beyond my pay grade. We know that God has extremely high standards for covenantal relationships, but there are grounds for breaking them. In what circumstances does the Bible allow divorce? Is adultery the only permissible way out of a harmful marriage? Is it enough for only one spouse to be all in in a marriage? Or do both have to take responsibility for being “all in”?

Covenantal Marriage: What It Means to be All In2023-04-30T23:03:46-06:00

Enjoying Eternal Pleasures

Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.”
I say of the holy people who are in the land, “They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.”
Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more.
I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods or take up their names on my lips.
Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.
I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure,
because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful[b]  one see decay.
You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.  Psalm 16 NIV

Footnote [b] holy

“You need to sit down! I want you to have some pleasure.” My father offered me a glass of wine, something simple to eat, and an opportunity for a relaxed conversation. He was the hardest worker I’ve ever met, but he refused to rush and took frequent breaks to enjoy the world around him. Unlike my father, I work intensely, and wear myself out. I had been cleaning out cupboards for him, and as usual, wouldn’t rest until I reached my goal for the day. My father was concerned because I was working too hard in a single minded pursuit of my goals.

Why did my father say “pleasure” and not “rest”? Why does Psalm 16 conclude by connecting a “life that pleases God” with “eternal pleasures”? Are “eternal pleasures” to be enjoyed only in eternity, or are they never ending gifts Christians can, and perhaps even should enjoy right now? After observing my father’s example, I believe that taking time every day to experience this pleasure is necessary in a healthy Christian life.

In his first message in the current series on marriage and relationships, Alex pointed out that people inside and outside of the church often conflate love and sex. Similarly, I think we often see pleasure and sex as synonymous. I’d also venture to guess that pleasure is not something we often enjoy as Christians and as Americans. A brief word study of the Bible reveals something quite interesting — God is often described as having pleasure; He delights in people who are living lives like the one described in Psalm 16. When human pleasure is mentioned in a negative way, it often describes peoples’ out-of-bounds activity and selfish pursuit of sexual satisfaction.

Can we as frail humans experience pleasure and also say:

“The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. Psalm 16:6 NIV

Could it be that humans can be mentally and physically healthier, more joyful, and more resistant to distorted pursuits of pleasure when we take time to experience pleasure in creation around us and in our non-intimate relationships? Could taking the time to pause to rest from our God given use of our talents help us connect more with Him and with others? Can opening ourselves to our senses — whether we are single, widowed, divorced or married — help us love God and our neighbor more deeply?

Based on observing my father, I believe “pleasure” is different from other words that describe a full life in relationship with God — joy, delight, blessedness, and peace — yet it’s an integral part of Christian life. “Pleasure” most fully captures how we experience the world with our senses — sight, sound, hearing, touch, smell, taste. For my father, and me, it also includes having a sense of humor. Pleasure can be experienced by anyone, and not only those who are in an intimate relationship. My father showed me that pleasure can be experienced when we are all alone and in very ordinary, or in even less than optimal circumstances. He showed that sharing pleasure with someone else (a delicious meal or beautiful sight) magnifies the pleasure everyone experiences. My father’s approach to life showed what loving God and loving one’s neighbor as oneself in an abundant way can look like.


Take time throughout the day to reflect on the amazing world we live in. What about God’s wonder and beauty can you experience most fully though your senses?

Consider watching the film, Babette’s Feast. See if this film would help you understand your own approach to life, pleasure, and faith?

Enjoying Eternal Pleasures2023-04-22T19:53:49-06:00

Eternal Life in the Here and Now

Easter is a celebration of redemption and of eternal life through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Those concepts are big and difficult to grasp. Is it any wonder that Easter is often a celebration best known for egg hunts, baskets of chocolates and family meals? Keeping the holiday light and festive makes it popular, but the question remains — what difference does Easter make in our day-to-day lives?

A few years back, the pastor at a church I attended asked, “What is eternal life?” The answers were primarily variations on “heaven” and “what happens when we die”. The pastor’s response has kept me thinking many years later: Eternal life, according to the Bible, is knowing Christ, and that is something we can experience right now. The Gospel of John says that this was Jesus’ prayer before His crucifixion:

After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. John 17:1-3

Because we believe Jesus rose again, our Easter celebrations commemorate that we can begin to experience eternal life — in the here and now.

Over the past 15 months, while caring for my father, Sam Masoudi, he and I experienced the redemption and eternal life that Jesus promises. My father was 88 and had been diagnosed with advanced dementia. His body and mind were failing, and death was imminent. My one prayer was that my father would continue to sense God’s loving presence even as his health was in rapid decline. I thought often of this passage:

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 NIV

God answered my prayers daily throughout those months. Even as my father grew weaker and weaker, he continually experienced the peace that passes all understanding promised by God in Christ. Much of that peace came through the very ordinary conduits of the care I and others provided, as well as friendships, family gatherings, beauty in nature, attending church and the wonder found in every ‘ordinary’ day.

After a bad fall in July, my father lost a lot of his language and hardly spoke at all. On rare occasions he would say a few sentences. In December, he said this: “If anyone asked me what the highest point of my life was, I would say it’s right now.”

The months when his health was declining held many challenges and were not easy. Through the help of my father’s neighbor, Annie, wonderful caregivers, and the ability that God gave me to persevere, my father was able to remain in his home until he died. My prayer, that we experience the eternal life secured through Christ’s death and resurrection, had been answered.

My father passed away March 15th. If he were here to celebrate Easter, this is how he would have prayed: “Thank you God. Thank you Lord. Thank you Jesus. And thank you very much.”

Eternal Life in the Here and Now2023-04-10T15:53:52-06:00

The Transforming Power of Repentance

One of the most beautiful sights in nature, in my opinion, is sun streaming through an opening in an overcast sky. The transforming power of light is striking and surprising. A landscape without bright light is flat and monotonous, but streaks of sunshine reveal all the color and depth that had been hidden. In chapter 31 of Jeremiah, we see how God plans to transform the repentant Judah — and all of Israel — in ways that no one living at the time could have possibly imagined. Eventually, the prophet says, God’s promise will stretch far beyond these nations to embrace all people, through the redemptive power of Jesus’s death and resurrection.

The transformation foreseen by Jeremiah is surprising because Israel itself, though repentance, holds the key to unlocking the power of God’s redemption:

“I have surely heard Ephraim’s moaning:
‘You disciplined me like an unruly calf, and I have been disciplined.
Restore me, and I will return, because you are the Lord my God.
After I strayed, I repented; after I came to understand, I beat my breast.
I was ashamed and humiliated because I bore the disgrace of my youth.’ Jeremiah 31:18-19 NIV

God’s forgiveness will be complete:

“For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” Jeremiah 31:34b

God’s forgiveness comes from His heart as a loving father:

They will come with weeping; they will pray as I bring them back.
I will lead them beside streams of water on a level path where they will not stumble,
because I am Israel’s father, and Ephraim is my firstborn son. Jeremiah 31:9 NIV

God’s forgiveness is expansive, covering not only Judah but all of the nations of Israel:

“At that time,” declares the Lord, “I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they will be my people.” Jeremiah 31:1 NIV

Throughout waywardness and repentance, God respects the agency of Israel and is ready to forgive. How could it be that the God of the universe has so much respect for His creation? Who could imagine this could be?

Jeremiah’s dreary and monotonous warnings are replaced with an unimaginably beautiful picture of the “Shalom” that God has in mind for Israel:

They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion; they will rejoice in the bounty of the Lord —
the grain, the new wine and the olive oil, the young of the flocks and herds.
They will be like a well-watered garden, and they will sorrow no more.
Then young women will dance and be glad, young men and old as well.
I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow. Jeremiah 31:12-14 NIV

I would love to be able to step into this image.

The transformation Jeremiah envisions for Israel foreshadows the promise of Christ’s ultimate forgiveness and redemption for all people everywhere:

“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord.
“I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God, and they will be my people.
No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,”
declares the Lord. … Jeremiah 31:33-34 NIV

Jeremiah foreshadows the words of Jesus when he says:

“…. I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.” Jeremiah 31:2b

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls….” Matthew 11:28-29 NIV

This promised redemption will completely erase any wearying and incomplete self salvation plans people can devise. God will replace them with the freedom and peace of His salvation that is offered to all in Christ.


Take a moment to soak in the amazing transformation that God makes available to us in Christ. Do you have plans for self salvation that are getting in the way of this transformation? Prepare for the hope of Easter. Take a moment to ask God to reveal how you might need to repent and turn back toward Him. Remember that He is a loving father waiting to forgive.

The Transforming Power of Repentance2023-04-02T20:17:39-06:00

Too Much and Never Enough?

“What do people mean when they ask, ‘Do you have enough?’” inquired a pastor at a church I used to attend. He followed up with, “Enough of what?” The answer to the question was obvious. Have we saved enough for retirement, enough to pay college tuition, enough to ensure we have freedom and peace and safety and whatever else we’re hoping to pin down? Humans like to quantify, to count, to control. The pastor was asking us to question ourselves, to ask what we hoped would fulfill our deepest longings for security and peace, He was also asking if money can be measured in terms of being “enough”? Are there cases when money might actually work counter to our goals of freedom and peace? Is the stuff we collect even ours?

Wealth is not bad or good in itself, but our attitude about wealth and the way we acquire it certainly can be damaged. Because the people of Judah had stopped thinking that God was enough, an insatiable and callous pursuit of wealth had taken hold of them:

For wicked men are found among my people; they lurk like fowlers lying in wait.[a]
They set a trap; they catch men.
Like a cage full of birds, their houses are full of deceit;
therefore they have become great and rich; they have grown fat and sleek.
They know no bounds in deeds of evil;
they judge not with justice the cause of the fatherless, to make it prosper,
and they do not defend the rights of the needy.
Shall I not punish them for these things? declares the Lord,
and shall I not avenge myself on a nation such as this?”  Jeremiah 5:26-29 ESV

Like fowlers who trapped birds destined for sacrifice or food, the wicked set traps for the weak and poor so they could use them for their own advantage. The hunters’ bags are full of helpless prey that will never fly free again. Their houses are compared to a cage full of deceit. Jeremiah seems to be painting a picture of the grand houses of the wicked as places where the hunters will become hunted; they have invited deceit to live with them. They have trapped the innocent but in the process become enclosed in a cage of their own making, and it’s one infested with deceit. What troubling images!

Because it’s so normal for people in general to wonder, “do we have enough?”, it’s easy to become callous. When the bottom line is “enough”, the “bounds of deeds of evil” can slip. We can be indifferent to the plight of those who are being taken advantage of – we ourselves can fall into the fowlers’ traps. Jeremiah reminds us that a society that’s based on acquiring wealth and on survival of the fittest, this attitude may seem to nurture some successful people. In the end, accepting this mentality as the status quo will lead to an unjust society and God’s eventual judgment.


Pray for a better understanding of what “enough” is for you. Is your view healthy? Does “enough” include the perspective that all we have is a gift of God? Could faithful giving be more of a source of “enough” than clinging to our possessions as our own? Ask God for guidance in this process.

Too Much and Never Enough?2023-03-11T09:08:10-07:00

This is a Wake Up Call!

Marriage is the most explicit metaphor Jeremiah uses in his wake up call for Judah. This is his message:  the people and leaders claimed to worship God in the temple. In reality, they had long gone off in search of other gods. Jeremiah describes Judah’s sins in such graphic detail that this book may seem irrelevant to us. If we scratch beyond the surface, however, we’ll realize we need this wake up call too.

Jeremiah, speaking for God, describes the single minded love the nation of Judah had had toward Him:

“I remember your youthful loyalty, our love as newlyweds.
You stayed with me through the wilderness years, stuck with me through all the hard places.”
Jeremiah 2:2b (The Message)

When Jeremiah arrived on the scene, Judah had become corrupted by the worship of Baal. God was the perfect spouse, yet Judah had grown bored of worshiping Him:

“Have I let you down, Israel? Am I nothing but a dead-end street?
Why do my people say, ‘Good riddance! From now on we’re on our own?’”  Jeremiah 2:31 The Message

The prophet doesn’t mince words. The people and leaders of Judah have become shameless in their search for new gods to worship:

“A long time ago you broke out of the harness.
You shook off all restraints.
You said, ‘I will not serve!’ and off you went,
Visiting every sex-and-religion shrine on the way, like a common whore.”
Jeremiah 2:20 The Message

What’s worse, they deny any wrongdoing:

“How dare you tell me, ‘I’m not stained by sin.
I’ve never chased after the Baal sex gods!’”
Jeremiah 2:23 The Message

Rather than listening to the prophet and changing their ways, the nation dooms itself to exile in Babylon.

Judah’s root-sins are idolatry (which Jeremiah describes as neglecting their first love for God), and their unrepentance. Judah seems so much more sinful than we could imagine being. If we are honest, however, we also commit the sin of idolatry and have unrepentant hearts.


Are there ways that you’ve stopped loving God? Do other ways of living seem more attractive? There are so many idols that can take first place in our lives-–busyness, self importance, material success, comfort and security, pleasing others, career, family,… In fact anything, even good things, can become idols when we make them all-important. Take a moment to reflect on where your thoughts routinely lead you. Confess any thoughts and actions that detract from loving God. Then, keep it up! He will welcome us with open arms when we repent.

This is a Wake Up Call!2023-03-04T13:56:10-07:00
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